Beautiful beets boost brain power – More tips

Versatile beets, as well as their leaves with stems, make delicious treats at any meal. Experiment with them to find ways to include them often in your meal plan. Your brain will thank you for it. Don’t forget. Eat beets.

As further encouragement for adding beets and beet leaves to your diet, here are three helpful tips for preparing and serving them deliciously and easily. This post follows on my previous two posts about beets’ bounty. Be sure to read them:

Tip #1: Clean beet leaves as soon as you bring them home

Whether you buy the leaves in a bunch or you cut them off the beet roots you’ve bought, they can look a little motley when you first bring them home. Some of the leaves might look damaged or wilted and there might seem to be an awful lot of stems. Don’t worry. The stems are the best past of the beet leaf!

The secret is to separate the stems from the leaves so that they can be cooked first, a few minutes longer than the green leafy parts. This series of photos shows how to clean and store your leaves. It might take 15 minutes, but the cleaned leaves will keep for up to two weeks this way. And using them in your recipes after that only takes minutes.

Using your beet leaves for breakfast or brunch

I use a few leaves every morning. I like to saute veggies in a frying pan with a little coconut or olive oil. Besides beet leaves, I’ve been known to include leeks, onions, mushrooms, red cabbage, red peppers, or tomatoes etc.. I will chop up whatever I have on hand, at least three veggies. I keep a ready supply of leeks and red cabbage chopped up and stored like the beet leaves, ready to go in the morning.

Once the veggies are cooked through on medium heat (I start with the tougher veggies and add the tender ones as the tough ones soften and cook), I add a couple tablespoons of water to the hot pan and cover it. The veggies steam for a few minutes while I get the egg ready.

Then I pile the veggies into the center of the pan and make a small indent to hold the egg. I break the egg into its nest, add another tablespoon or two of water, and cover the pan tightly again. I might lower the heat a little at this point if the pan looks like it is browning too quickly. Once the egg has set, about 3 minutes depending on whether you like a soft yolk (I do), I season the dish with Tex-Mex and using a spatula I lift it out onto a plate.

When beet leaves are a part of my stir-fry, I start with the chopped stems, then the onions or leeks, finally the mushrooms, and end with tomatoes and the greens. When the greens have wilted (a minute or two), I add the egg and a little water, cover, and wait till the egg sets. This is a filling and delicious breakfast. The beet leaves taste milder than spinach or kale and are even better for us than any other greens!

Tip #2: Polish beetroot horseradish – “Cwikla”

I discovered the deliciousness of cwikla on Pancake Tuesday this year. A neighbor recommended polish donuts filled with prune jam as a traditional food popular at Mardi Gras and sent us to a nearby store to get some. While there, we spotted a jar of cwikla. We are on a beet kick, these days, since discovering how excellent beets are for preserving brain health. Both the donuts and the cwikla made it to the checkout counter. Both items proved to score high on the deliciousness scale.

We chose the mild version of cwikla and for us it was perfect. The natural sweetness of beets with a gentle bite from the horseradish was a wonderful addition to meats at supper. There are recipes for cwikla on line, if you want to make it yourself. It looks dead easy, with just a few ingredients – beets, horseradish vinegar and sugar.

Tip #3: Beet-flavored goat cheese

Another neighbor offered us a different beet treat to try, a package of goat cheese, flavored with beets. How pretty! And also totally delicious! Goat cheese can be a little tart for some people’s taste. So I served it on rainforest crackers and topped it off with a dab of cwikla – an excellent use for this product. So good!

These are just a few of the things you can do with beets. I have yet to try beet juice, but as I don’t often drink juice, it isn’t something that appeals to me. I prefer to eat my fruits and veggies whole, to maximize my fiber intake. You might like to try the juice, though?

I hope you will be encouraged to experiment as much as possible with beets. They offer so much in terms of both nutrition and flavor, not to mention the beautiful color they add to your plate.

So don’t forget. Eat beets. Love, Vinny.

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